Sunday 22 April 2018

Kirsty at large: Trendy name? Not for all the tea in China

Jamie and Jools Oliver with their family, including the new addition, River Rocket
Jamie and Jools Oliver with their family, including the new addition, River Rocket
Showbiz: Al Porter and Angela Scanlon at the bash
Literary endeavour: Kathleen Watkins
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Catching up on my daily dose of celebrity gossip, I stumbled across an article about mothers who regretted giving their children 'trendy' names.

One mum had named her son Jedediah - in honour of a Jedi in Star Wars. Another had christened her kid Chaitanya, a Sanskrit word meaning 'cosmic intelligence'.

Both mums later realised the error of their ways and these days refer to their respective children as 'Jed' and 'Chay'.

It struck a chord with me because I very nearly had a super-trendy-you're-definitely-going-to-be-bullied-in-school first name.

It was the mid-80s and my father decided he wanted his first daughter to be named China.

I should stress he had never been to China and had no particular affinity to Asia - aside from a deep-seated love of sweet 'n' sour chicken balls and a brief obsession with bonsai trees.

He simply thought China Blake Knox sounded "unique". This is true; very few people are called China (I googled it).

The only vaguely famous person with the name is China Kantner - an American TV actress and the daughter of Jefferson Airplane band members Grace Slick and Paul Kantner.

Then there is Rob Kardashian's other half, Blac Chyna, but her real name is Angela and I'm afraid stage names don't count.

My mother did not share my father's enthusiasm for the name China.

She made the point that I would definitely get teased in secondary school when boys realised 'China' rhymed with vagina. Plus, she said, China Blake Knox was the sort of name a "magician's assistant" had. I'm pretty sure by "magician's assistant" she meant "stripper".

After a lot of rowing, the name was vetoed. Of course my mother was right but I must admit part of me has always been slightly disappointed my dad didn't hold his nerve.

Sometimes I think about what my life would have been like had he prevailed. China would be much more confident than I am (her name is China, after all). She would definitely have been to Burning Man, and have an on-again-off-again boyfriend who plays the didgeridoo.

She would be very good on Instagram. She would not work in an office. She would like moonstones. I don't think I'd like her, but it's a nice fantasy to escape into to.

One thing is certain: if I had been christened China, I would have insisted on keeping the name in its entirety.

Truncating your own child's name, as the mums in the article did, seems so brutal.

Don't give up the jig. I mean, what hope have the trendy tykes got if even their parents can't abide their name?

Broadcast fail: Time to get act together, IFTA

Showbiz: Al Porter and Angela Scanlon at the bash

Showbiz: Al Porter and Angela Scanlon at the bash

Jeez, the televised IFTA Gala Awards ceremony was a real piece of work.

And by 'piece of work' I mean an appalling example of TV broadcasting.

There were so many whiplash edits, jump cuts, and inaudible speeches that watching it felt akin to crawling inside a spin cycle.

The day after, TV3 admitted the ceremony had experienced a few "hiccups", and issued a statement saying it could have done with some "tightening up".

It's a mystery how the IFTAs manage to be so shoddily produced. Especially when other awards ceremonies like The People of the Year Awards and The Book of the Year Awards have much slicker production values.

In 2014, IFTA used the excuse of airing live, but this year there were two full days to turn things around. And after all that, it still managed to be worse than the 2014 ceremony.

It was shorter, however, so I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies.

Pigín, Pippa and the question of Brian's fake bake on Budget day

Literary endeavour: Kathleen Watkins

The cost of cigarettes and Coca-Cola prayed heavily on the nation's mind last Tuesday, as Michael Noonan delivered the 2017 Budget.

But there were no such worries at the launch of Pippa O'Connor Ormond's book Simple Tips to Live Beautifully - despite taking place across the road from Government Buildings in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin.

Pippa admitted she had found the writing process a struggle.

"I would ring my sister and say 'I just don't know how much more I can say about foundation'."

To which some cad in the audience shouted back, "try asking Brian" - a reference, of course, to Pippa's bronzed other half, Brian Ormond.

The following day I headed along to another book launch (we're in the thick of them now) in the National Gallery.

Kathleen Watkins, above, was unveiling her children's book, Pigín of Howth.

The atrium was jam- packed with adults and children running about.

"It's like a crèche in here," one irritable photographer grumbled when a child dropped a mini quiche lorraine on his shoe.

However, Late Late Show host Ryan Tubridy was viewing the young demographic in a much more positive light.

"Children are the next generation and they are critical for sales - I mean - for literary endeavours."

Ryan, who was MC-ing the event, also spoke about his own children's book, Patrick and the President, which will hit shelves soon.

The book has been illustrated by PJ Lynch.

"I make a cameo in it," Ryan said. "PJ has drawn me in to one of the pictures. I play a journalist in a trench coat." Kathleen was gracious as she thanked the crowd and informed us that the book was written over lots of buttered scones. Which sounds delightful.


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